What is a Power of Attorney?
It’s a legal document that lets a person (known as the donor) appoint one or more people they trust (known as attorneys) to act on their behalf. This gives the donor peace of mind their affairs can be dealt with on their behalf if they’re unable to.
It’s normal for attorneys to share a copy of the power of attorney with people or organisations such as the donor’s:
- insurance company,
- utility companies,
- healthcare professionals such as GP etc.
Companies will have their own requirements to record a Power of Attorney, so you’ll need to check with them. But generally speaking the attorney will need to provide a certified copy of the Power of Attorney and proof of their identity.
Types of Power of Attorney in the UK
Lasting Power of Attorney (applies to England and Wales)
This is the most popular form of Power of Attorney. There are two types:
- Property and financial affairs – this gives the attorney power to make decisions about money and property, for example paying bills, collecting benefits or a pension. It can be used as soon as it’s registered with the Office of the Public Guardian with the donor’s permission.
- Health and welfare - this gives the attorney power to make decisions about things like medical care, life-sustaining treatment. It can only be used when the donor is unable to make their own decisions.
To be valid the Lasting Power of Attorney needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
Enduring Power of Attorney (applied to England and Wales before October 2007)
These were available up to 30 September 2007. Although you can’t take out one now, any taken out up to this date are still valid. If the donor becomes (or is becoming) mentally incapable, the Enduring Power of Attorney is suspended until it’s registered with the Court of Protection.
General Power of Attorney – this may also be known as an Ordinary Power of Attorney
This can be used to appoint someone to look after their affairs often for a short period of time. For example due to an accident, illness or extended leave of absence. This type will stop if the donor loses mental capacity.
Trustee Power of Attorney (applies to England and Wales)
This enables a trustee to appoint an attorney for their trustee role for up to one year. Trusts can be complicated and so we’d always recommend the donor and trustee(s) get legal advice before going ahead.
Continuing Power of Attorney (Applies to Scotland)
There are two types of long-term power of attorney:
- Continuing Power of Attorney – this gives the attorney power to make decisions about money and property, for example paying bills, collecting benefits or a pension.
- Welfare Power of Attorney – this gives the attorney power to make decisions about things like medical care, life-sustaining treatment.
These can be combined as a Continuing & Welfare Power of Attorney. Before these can be used they need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland.
Enduring Power of Attorney (Applies to Northern Ireland)
This can be used to enable the attorney to deal with the donor’s legal and financial affairs. This is still valid if the donor loses mental capacity but will be suspended until it’s registered with the Office of Care and Protection in Northern Ireland.
What you need to do to record a Power of Attorney with us
Send us a certified copy of the Power of Attorney with proof of the attorney(s) identity together with a note of the donor’s policy numbers they have with us. You only need to send this to us once, we’ll do the leg work and pass copies to the relevant areas for example motor insurance, pensions etc.
Depending on the type of policy, we may have other requirements, but we’ll let you know.
We’ll continue to send correspondence to the policyholder, for example yearly statements, renewal documents unless the attorney(s) tell us different. For pension policies we have to hold the permanent residential address of the policyholder.
This can be used if someone is no longer able to manage their affairs and doesn’t have a Power of Attorney in place. One or more relatives, close friends or other trusted person may apply to the Court to be appointed to act on their behalf.
The court will have rules about what authority this allows and will be done on a case-by-case basis.
Questions & Answers
Q. Who can be an attorney?
A. Someone over the age of 18 (16 if they live in Scotland) – they must have mental capacity. They can live anywhere in the world and don’t have to be a British citizen. For example this could be a trusted relative or friend or professional person such as a solicitor.
Q. Can I appoint more than one attorney?
A. Yes, they can act separately (where they make decisions on their own) or together (the attorneys must agree on the decision).
Q. Do you accept Power of Attorneys created outside of the UK?
A. We’ll need to look at each case and would ask you to send it to us. If it’s not written in English please include a translation.
Q. Can an attorney apply for an Individual Savings Account (ISA) or pension product on behalf of the donor?
A. Possibly, an attorney can apply for an ISA for someone else. If they act under an Enduring Power of Attorney, it must be registered. An attorney can only apply for a pension if the donor has lost mental or physical capacity.
Q. What is a certified copy Power of Attorney?
A. It’s a copy of the original document. The following people can certify a document is the copy of an original:
- Notary Public
- Donor (if they have capacity to do so).
The certifier will need to provide a ‘wet’ signature on every page, date it and include their:
- contact details
- employment address.